The Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Tobago has accused the Tobago Festivals Commission of "gerrymandering" figures in discussing allocations given to Carnival interest groups.The organisation's stance came in the wake of statements by the commission's acting chairman Penelope Williams, during a news conference last Wednesday, that TUCO Tobago had demanded an allocation of $1.3 million to manage its tents and competitions for Carnival 2020.TUCO Tobago's treasurer Kenneth Thomas said Williams's statement is inaccurate."As treasurer of the Tobago arm of TUCO, I will just like to correct some inaccurate statements that were made by the festivals commission acting chairman...that TUCO's budget that was submitted was $1.3 million and the executive council would have reduced that to $800,000," he told Newsday.Thomas said the organisation had originally submitted a budget of $4.2 million."Information reaching us through the then chairman (Dr Suzanne Burke) indicated that that was reduced to $1.3 million. After they looked through all of the budgets from the interest groups, they would have trimmed it to $1.3 million. And information coming again from the then chairman Dr Burke is that that is what was approved."The group did not submit a budget of $1.3 million which was reduced to $800,000, he pointed out.
"I would just like to correct that and also to inform the public that there seems to be some kind of gerrymandering with the figures and a simple investigation by the media or whoever will reveal that what I am now saying is the accurate occurrence in respect to the issue."TUCO Tobago president Ainsley King said while the organisation did receive $800,000 in 2019, the court had simply ordered the commission to release TUCO's allocation."And, therefore, because of the state of mind that they were in – the spitefulness – that money was given to TUCO because we have a mandate to run our calypso tents and normally, since in 2005, we would have been receiving something like $1.5 million because the calypso tents were included," he said.King claimed that last year festivals commission director George Leacock made "a very serious attempt to take over the calypso tent and form his own calypso tent."But, he said, "Leacock did not have the power because we are the ones with the right and the mandate to run calypso tents, which we have been douing for the past 30 years."At the news conference last Wednesday, Williams insisted the figure submitted by TUCO to manage its activities was "really too high in terms of what was the available budgetary allocation and therefore, it had to be looked at in terms of giving each group a fair share."She added the commission received an overall budget of $7,767,000.